U.S. court denies delay for EPA carbon rules in Texas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal court on Wednesday blocked an attempt by Texas to delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to impose carbon regulations in the state early next year.

The state of Texas is suing the EPA to prevent the agency from forcing it to issue greenhouse gas permits for the biggest polluters when national carbon rules take effect in early January.

Until there is a ruling on the case, Texas asked the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to block the EPA’s mandate that the state expand its pollution regulations to include greenhouse gases. The court denied the request.

The EPA issued a finding last year that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare. Since then the agency has moved forward with developing rules under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions blamed for climate change.

Beginning Jan 2., EPA will require large emitters such as power plants, refineries and cement manufacturers to obtain permits for polluting greenhouse gases.

The EPA has said it will issue permits for Texas, which has refused to adopt rules for emissions. Opponents of the climate rules say they will hurt the economy and kill jobs.

In its lawsuit, Texas called the EPA’s carbon regulations “unlawful” and said the agency’s attempt to force state compliance with the rules was “contrary to both the Clean Air Act and the Constitution.”

Texas said the move would also lead to a construction moratorium in the state, but the EPA has said the agency’s action will allow major emitters to meet the carbon requirements for building new plants next year.

The court’s decision to deny Texas’ request follows another federal court’s ruling earlier this month against industry groups attempting to postpone the implementation of the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations until courts rule on the legality of the rules.

Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid